The conference tournaments are all set for the state's four major college teams, none of which has exactly been burning up the basketball world this year.
Each of the four teams - BYU, Utah, Utah State and Weber State - still has a chance to play in the 64-team NCAA tournament which begins next week. But to do so, they must win their conference tournament. Otherwise, the NCAA will have no interest whatsoever. In fact, unless the NIT is digging real deep, none of the four local teams should even end up there this year.Of course, most of the attention this week will be focused on the Western Athletic Conference tournament, which will be played at the University of Utah Huntsman Center through Saturday night.
Utah (15-16) will be the first to play, meeting San Diego State (12-16) Wednesday at 7 p.m. in a game that will determine who gets to play WAC champ Colorado State the following night. The Utes, who never in their wildest dreams expected to be playing this game, have beaten San Diego State twice already this year.
BYU (14-14) goes against Hawaii, a team it has lost to twice this year, Thursday at 7 p.m. The Rainbows (16-11), are coming off an impressive swing to the southwest where they beat New Mexico and lost by three at UTEP. BYU had been coming on strong in the late-season before losing to Colorado State by 17 at home Saturday.
There is a chance that Utah and BYU could meet in the semifinals Friday night since they are in the same bracket. But for that to happen, Utah would have to beat San Diego Wednesday and Colorado State Thursday and BYU would need to beat Hawaii.
The other half of the WAC bracket shows Air Force (14-13) meeting New Mexico (19-9) at noon with UTEP (22-6) playing Wyoming (14-16) at 2:30 p.m. With the various ties and last-minute shuffling due to upsets, the WAC pairings have changed the past few days, but the above pairings are correct.
Up in Boise at the Big Sky Tournament, the suddenly struggling Weber State Wildcats (16-10) play Nevada-Reno (16-11) Thursday at 9 p.m. The winner of that game will play host to Boise State the following night at 6:30 p.m. Montana and Montana State will play the first game Thursday for the right to play Idaho at 9 p.m. Friday.
The Big West Conference, after several years at The Forum in Los Angeles, has moved its tournament to the Long Beach Arena this year. It begins Wednesday night with San Jose State meeting Fresno State and Pacific playing Cal-Irvine.
Utah State (12-15), which won the tournament last year, will meet Cal State-Fullerton (15-12) in Thursday's first game at 3 p.m. MST. The Aggies and Titans, who tied for fourth with Long Beach State, split in their season series this year.
Single-game tickets for the WAC tournament went on sale Monday.